- It’s decision time for Daunte Culpepper owners. So far the former fantasy phenom has zero touchdowns and eight interceptions. A game this week against the Saints looks good, but most people felt the same way about match-ups versus the Buccaneers and Bengals. I just don’t see how you can start him at this point until he regains his confidence. It’s one thing if your team managed to squeak out a win in your first two games, but if you’re 0-2, you almost have to look elsewhere. Me? If I had a choice of QBs to start in this game, I’d take Aaron Brooks. Other guys I’d start over Culpepper are Steve McNair (STL), Drew Bledsoe (SF), and Brian Griese.
- Speaking of Griese … I attended the Browns vs. Packers game last weekend. I can say with full confidence that the Lambeau mystique is gone. Fans were sitting on their hands even when the Browns had the ball in crucial third-and-short situations. No noise. No energy. No passion. It was surreal. I wouldn’t hesitate to give Brian Griese the starting nod this week if you’re desperate for help. The Packers defense made Trent Dilfer look like Johnny Unitas. A pair of touchdowns and 220 yards is almost a given for Griese.
- This should be the week where we see the Indianapolis Colts offense return to form. The Browns rank second to last in the NFL in pass defense, surrendering 304.4 yards per game. After games against the Jaguars and Ravens, Peyton Manning and company will be looking to open up the offense. Anything less than three touchdowns for last year’s MVP would be a disappointment.
- Carson Palmer has been every bit the franchise QB the Bengals drafted him to be. In Palmer’s last four starts, he has averaged 2.5 touchdowns and over 300 yards per game. He’s almost reached must-start-every-week status. Palmer’s game this week against the Bears looks like it could be his undoing, but unless you have an option that is clearly better stick with the former Heisman Trophy winner. While the Bears may prove to be solid, two games against the likes of Patrick Ramsey and Joey Harrington does not a top 10 defense make. Palmer should dip no lower than 200 yards and two scores this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Brian Griese, Steve McNair, and Drew Bledsoe
- I think this is the week we see Mewelde Moore re-enter the fantasy picture. He’s been limited thus far by injuries and Mike Tice’s stupidity. However, after two Michael Bennett fumbles last week Moore should get an increased workload against the Saints. Add into the mix the injury to Nate Burleson, and it’s looking more and more like the Vikings will rely on short passing plays and dump-offs. Last season versus the Saints, Moore churned out 187 all-purpose yards, including seven receptions for 78 yards. A duplicate of that effort is too much to expect, but I believe he’ll put up 90-100 total yards and will be particularly valuable in leagues that award points for receptions.
- By now most fantasy owners are well aware that consensus #1 overall pick LaDainian Tomlinson has zero receptions so far this season. What you may not know is that the situation is particularly favorable for Tomlinson to turn things around this week. The Chargers face a New York Giants defense that has given up a combined 17 receptions to running backs in its two games.
- The Rams defensive stats are a bit deceiving since they faced two of the worst rushing offenses in the league so far (Arizona and San Francisco). As it stands, they have given up fewer than 58.0 rushing yards per game. Still, I advise owners to stay far away from the Titans backfield. Chris Brown and Travis Henry are now the epitome of running back by committee. Henry has proven his injured toe has healed and at this point it’s a crapshoot which RB will get the carries. Keep them on the bench until one emerges (or, more likely, one gets hurt).
- Look for the Patriots to try and make their top priority taking Willie Parker out of the game. Parker has rushed for over 100 yards in each of his last three games dating back to Week 17 last year. But that streak may come to an end this week. New England isn’t quite as strong as they once were against the run, but an average of 98.0 yards per game on the ground ain’t too shabby.
This Week’s Sleepers: Mewelde Moore, Michael Pittman, and Willis McGahee
- It may be time to mothball the theory that wide receivers struggle in their first year with a new team. Randy Moss, Santana Moss, Muhsin Muhammad, Derrick Mason, Plaxico Burress, and Travis Taylor are the leading receivers for their respective teams after two games. All of them are worthy starters for your fantasy squad on any given week (just not this week for Santana Moss and Mason who are on bye).
- Saints wideout Joe Horn hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. He ranks sixth in the NFL in yardage among wideouts and could climb even higher this week after he’s through with the Vikings. In the last five meetings between New Orleans and Minnesota, dating back to 1995, the combined score has exceeded 53 points in all but one game. Despite the stagnant offense we’ve seen from the Vikings thus far, I expect the scoreboard operator to be active in this game. Horn is a safe bet for a 90-100 yard effort against a team that once again ranks near the bottom of the NFL in pass defense.
- San Francisco has been ripped through the air in their first two games. The Niners have given up an average of nearly 380 passing yards per game. If you acquired Terry Glenn via free agency this week or had him stashed away on your roster since your draft, don’t shy away from starting him. The duo of Glenn and Bledsoe appears as if it hasn’t missed a beat since they parted ways five years ago. Keyshawn Johnson also should bounce back from a disappointing Week 2.
- After two games on grass, it’s back to dome sweet dome for the Rams. Look for Torry Holt to have his way with the suspect Titans pass defense, which has looked okay, but only against the run-oriented offenses of Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Holt is currently tied for fifth in the NFL with 14 receptions, but after this game he could easily be #1. In his last two home games versus AFC opponents, Holt has 227 yards and three touchdowns. Consider him a lock for 110 yards and a score.
This Week’s Sleepers: Terry Glenn, Rod Smith , Joey Galloway, and Keenan McCardell
- When Drew Bledsoe signed with the Cowboys, many fantasy owners figured Jason Witten would become the new Ben Coates. Unfortunately, the tandem has fallen way, way short of expectations. Witten has just five receptions so far this season and zero touchdowns. On the bright side, the Cowboys travel to San Francisco this week to face a 49ers defense that gave up 119 yards and a touchdown to L.J. Smith last week. Perhaps even more telling is that they gave up a score to the Rams Brandon Manumaleuna in Week 1. If you’ve held on to Witten this long, he is worth a final shot in Week 3.
- The Broncos love to stick their top cover corner, Champ Bailey, on the Chiefs Tony Gonzalez when they square off against their division rival. It’s no surprise that in their last two meetings against Kansas City, Gonzalez has averaged just 30.5 yards and zero touchdowns.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jason Witten and Ben Troupe
- Bengals kicker Shayne Graham is an excellent start in Week 3 versus the Bears. Chicago has given up multiple field goals in each of its first two games. Meanwhile, Graham leads all kickers in scoring and is one of only six players with five or more field goals.
- Mike Vanderjagt was the first kicker taken in most drafts, but you wouldn’t know it from his stats through the first two weeks. The “idiot kicker” has just 10 points, which ranks 20th in the NFL. That’s less than guys like Rian Lindell, Josh Scobee, and Neil Rackers, all players who likely went undrafted in your league. The moral of the story is don’t waste a mid-round draft pick on a kicker. Now that I got that off my chest, I wouldn’t give up on Vanderjagt this week. The Colts will score over 30 points, and Vanderjagt is good for 10 of those.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jose Cortez and John Carney
- The Dallas Cowboys defense could be poised for a big game this week against the 49ers. San Francisco ranks last in the league in rushing (46.0/game) and third worst in the league in passing (133.5). QB Tim Rattay hasn’t led his team on a touchdown-scoring drive in over five and a half quarters. If he starts slowly, we may see a cameo appearance by rookie Alex Smith sometime after halftime. That could mean even bigger points for the Dallas defense.
- Owners who were spoiled by the Chicago Bears stellar defense and special teams play last week won’t be so lucky on Sunday. The Bengals are tops in the league in yardage and second in scoring. Plus, they’ve only turned the ball over three times and given up just two sacks. I wouldn’t blame you for riding the hot hand of the Chicago Bears defense, but if you have another option at the defensive position, give it a second look.
This Week’s Sleepers: New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week’s 6-Pack: Boulevard Pale Ale
Price Paid: $6.99
Boulevard Brewing Company hails from Kansas City, Missouri. The beer comes in a stout, brown bottle and pours to a cloudy, light-amber color. The head is solid and has definite staying power. As for the smell, it’s subtle, but there is a fruity aroma that you can’t miss with this beer—probably best categorized as grapefruit. The taste was reasonably complex, but fell short of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which is one of my top rated beers. If you concentrate on your palate, you should be able to pick up a peppery quality to this beer, which presumably comes from the hops. The grapefruit scent picked up in the nose also carries over into the taste, adding some bitterness. Overall, I prefer my pale ales to be a bit stronger and punch me in the mouth harder. Carbonation is near perfect and the beer goes down smoothly. Too bad that the aftertaste comes on a bit strong, and is unmistakably like orange rind. While Boulevard Pale Ale is quite good, it’s not outstanding. I give it three stars out of four. Give it a try next time you’re in KC.
Next Week's 6-Pack : Bass
Bass comes upon a reader recommendation from David, who says he’s an avid Weekly 6-Pack reader but was shocked I hadn’t reviewed his favorite beer. Pick up a 6-Pack of this English ale to enjoy with Week 3 of the NFL season and let me know what you think.